Posted on 25 May 2011

A musical adaptation of the much-loved Bette Midler movie Beaches is currently in the works by the author of the film's original novel.

I know what you're thinking - why hasn't this been done already!   The classic 1988 film Beaches starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey with a spunky Mayim Bialik, aka TV's Blossom, perfectly channelling her inner Bette as her younger counterpart.   With laughs and tears in equal measure and a poignant and emotional climax it is fondly thought of in the same way Dirty Dancing and Grease are by film lovers.   It almost seems an oversight that someone hasn't thought to helm a stage version before now.  Luckily the author of the book the film was based on, Iris Rainer Dart, agrees, and having recently dipped her toe into stagewriting with new Broadway show The People In The Picture, she is already full steam ahead on this new project.   Speaking to Playbill.com she reveals "We are nearly ready to start showing it to producers", adding "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the story of those characters with music.   I'm chomping at the bit to finish [the musical] and cast it and get it happening."

The musical will draw on the original novel, released in 1985, as its source material.  The film changed a number of details including the name of Barbara Hershey's character from Bertie Barron to Hillary Whitney.   Dart is co-writing the libretto with Thom Thomas and the show's music will be composed by David Aaron Austin.   Leonard Foglia has signed on to direct.   At this stage it appears unlikely that songs from the soundtrack to the movie will be used in the musical version, which seems a shame as they are a key part of the film's enduring charm.   Hopefully this will be reviewed when the finished product is tested with potential producers.   Bette Midler's soaring take on the previously recorded Wind Beneath My Wings has since become her signature song, and won both Record of The Year and Song Of The Year at the 1990 Grammy Awards, as well as being a US chart topper and UK number three hit.   The movie's soundtrack also includes Under The Boardwalk and The Glory Of Love.

The story follows childhood friends Cecilia Carol Bloom, known as CC, a ballsy performer determined to be a star and her pragmatic and devoted friend Bertie/Hillary.   It follows the ups and downs of their lives from the 1950s to the 1980s, culminating with the devastating diagnosis of one of the girls' terminal illness.   The title comes from their reunions over the years on various beaches across the world.   With the right treatment the show has all the ingredients to be a bonefide smash hit, which would undoubtedly mean a transfer to the West End.   We'll keep you posted - hankies at the ready!

[posted by James, 25/05/2011]